I'm sure a regular Spirit is an easy SU, but this one is better than that. Probably not too much better, but better enough. Plus by now they're older, so if I saw one out driving (Especially if it looked like that custom one from the additional pics lol) I'd comment on it. Still not actually cool though, so meh it is.
If there was anything close to a Dodge SRT4 in the nineties, this is it. Hopefully these will be considered as interesting as the SRT4 someday just without the cliches some people associate with it. I would rather drive this than 90% of anything else sold at the time and it can be used as a daily driver. Sub Zero for sure.
Hemmings has a pretty good summary of this car. It was cheaper than a Taurus SHO, quicker from 0-60 than an M5, had an engine developed with help from Lotus and options that would normally only grace vehicles twice its size and price point. But it was still a K-car, which had already become synonymous with cheap crap by that point in time, so almost nobody wanted it even though it was far better than its base model bretheren.
I guess I give it a Meh, not for being uninteresting but because it didn't really have any noticeable impact. They at least made an actual effort with it though, which is more than I can say for some other cars of this time period.
There's a certain matter of novel absurdity in debuting a hotted up performance sedan that looks like it's from the 1970s to compete with brand new modern contemporaries; but that doesn't extend enough to pretend that this wasn't the worst car even against competition that included a car where you basically had to remove the engine to change the spark plugs.
Underrated performance with this car. I was watching a marathon of MotorWeek on MotorWeek's YouTube channel when I came across this car. The Dodge Spirit has some very interesting performance numbers for a car of its time. It is boldly styled as well. Despite the praise I've given it, one other person said he/she owned one or two of them and was a very unreliable car. It isn't bonkers enough to get my "Sub-Zero" vote, so I'll go with a (solid) Cool on the Dodge Spirit.
Of the probably one hundred or more Chrysler products I drove from 1981-2006, this thing is only one of two that ever left me stranded. The one that quit on me wasn't a R/T but a regular ES turbo. It had quit several times on the customer we sold it to so we ended up buying it back. We couldn't figure out what was wrong with it. The service manager had driven it home several times trying to get it to act up but it never would. We had put probably 200 miles or so on it.
I can't remember exactly what year it was but it was somewhere around 1992 or 1993 and I was going to a concert in Antioch, TN one night. Antioch is next to Murfreesboro which is about 20 miles or so outside of Nashville. It was about 120 miles one way from where we lived and our dealership was. I think the concert I was going to was Pantera with White Zombie. My dad who owned the dealership said "drive the Spirit up there". I said ok since it had been driven by almost everyone else at the dealership and never acted up.
Went to the concert. Concert was over and I go out to the car, it starts up and moves about 30ft from where I parked it and it quits. It turns over and over but never cranks. Check it again every 5-10 minutes, nothing. Finally as the lot is starting to empty out it fires up. Moves about 50ft then quits again. It starts up one more time and gets almost to the exit gate and quits again. By now the lot is empty and security has shown up. This was before I had a cell phone so security gives me a lift down to the pay phone so I can call a taxi. Call my dad and told him what happened and he said they would send a tow truck for me the next morning. Next morning he picks me up at the motel and we go back out to the amphitheater. He tries for a few minutes to start it but nothing happens. We get the car back home and just left it for Chrysler to pick up which they did. I never found out if they fixed it or not. But every time I see a Dodge Spirit which is rare these day I think of that silver ES turbo that left me stranded in Tennessee one night.
I think we might have had one R/T and I believe it was white.
The only other Chrysler that quit on me was a 1991 Dodge Shadow ES Turbo with the Variable Nozzle Turbo option. I had it for a demo during the winter and somehow it got water in the fuel tank and it quit on me twice but I was in town each time. That car was lightning quick before that but it never was the same after we fixed it.
Assuming everything goes right and it’s not being a maintenance nightmare, the car itself has some pretty respectable hot-hatch tier performance in a package that is pretty understated and relatively unknown. I think this car is enough of an oddity to be worth a low cool.